Boils or furuncles are skin infections and occur due to the clogging of the oil glands, hair follicles, or skin pores. The area surrounding the boils is usually reddish when they appear on the skin. Gradually as the day passes, pus forms under the patch and can be painful.
Often the boils can be treated at home and do not need medical attention unless it grows big and starts paining immensely.
Types of Boils
Large boils are medically known as skin abscesses. They usually occur on the back, chest, face, or buttocks. Other areas they can occur are the underarms or groin. Most of the skin abscesses will go away without treatment or with the usage of available Over-the-Counter drugs. They rarely become challenging to treat and may require consultation with a dermatologist, who will drain the boil and advise proper medications by studying the underlying cause.
Carbuncles are another type of boils. Carbuncles usually occur in a group and are more frequent in middle-aged men. They are a result of more widespread infection compared to boils and are severe as well. It is safe to consult a medical practitioner in such cases as improper handling can lead to disastrous results.
Another type of boils is the one that occurs on the eyelids and is called Sty(Stye). An infection in the sebaceous glands of the eyelids causes Sty. Since eyes are delicate organs, it is better to consult an Ophthalmologist instead of treating them at home.
Causes of Boils
Boils commonly occur in areas that come in frequent contact with the clothes. The constant rubbing often irritates the skin and can cause minor cuts or bruises. Germs or bacteria entering through these cuts are the primary reason why boils occur.
The leading causes of boils are
- The bacteria staphylococci that are present on the skin enter the skin via minor cuts or burns and causes boils
- Having close contact with people who have boils and sharing the products used by them
- Weak immune system due to conditions such as HIV or chronic disease like diabetes
- Existing skin disease such as eczema, psoriasis, or oily skin prone to acne outbreaks
- Allergy to medications or medications that can weaken the immune system
- Ingrown hair that cannot come out
- Splinters or small foreign particles logged in the skin
- Poor nutrition and personal hygiene
Symptoms of Boils
The first symptoms of boils are the appearance of reddish spots on the surface of the skin. After a few days, the spots not only turn painful, but pus starts accumulating beneath the skin.
The symptoms of severe infection are:
- The skin around the boils turns red, painful, warm, and swollen.
- Increase in the size of the boil
- Several boils may form around the original boil forming a cluster and severe infection.
- Developing a fever or chills after a few days of the occurrence of the boil
- Swelling of the Lymph nodes
Though boils appear similar to acne, they are much more severe and painful. The treatment also varies for both skin conditions.
Treatment for Curing a Boil
Often when they appear, the main question will be how to get rid of a boil since they look ugly and are painful.
Sometimes the boils need not be treated; they disappear on their own. Only when it grows painful and does not go away after a week of appearing will it have to be treated by medical practitioners.
We have a few home remedies to treat boils when they are at the initial stages. They are
- Keep warm towels against the boils for 10 mins at least four times a day. This enhances blood circulation around the area, and thus, the WBC’s present in the blood will be able to fight off the infection faster.
- Put indirect pressure on the boil and take care not to burst them since it increases the risks of expanding the contamination to the nearby skin surfaces.
- Clean the infection if pus starts oozing out of the boil with anti-bacterial soap. Then dress the wound appropriately with gauze. Clean the wound area at least three times a day till it heals completely.
Do’s and Don’ts for boil treatment at home.
The home remedies for boils help in avoiding complications are later stages. However, one has to follow specific protocols for proper healing of the boils.
- If boils have developed on the face, do not repeatedly touch them or squeeze them.
- If the boils have developed due to shaving, avoid shaving the area until the boil has ruptured and healed to avoid the infection’s spread.
- Do not use sharp objects for popping the boils, as they increase the chances of infections. Usually, the boils rupture on their own with heat compress within a week to ten days.
- Do not share the towels or clothes with others to minimize the chances the spreading the infection.
- Do not use swimming pools.
- Wash the hands frequently to avoid infecting the area with cuts and burns.
- If there are nicks and cuts, ensure sterilizing the area immediately with alcohol-based solution, and do not touch the area with unclean hands until the wound is healed.
- Regularly wash commonly used towels and bedsheets.
Boils usually can be tended at home and do not require a medical practitioner’s attention. However, when one develops high fever and chills or more boils making the condition severe, consult a physician or a dermatologist to help treat the boil. Another scenario to consult a medical practitioner is when boils appear on the face. They will drain the pus carefully and prescribe antibiotics to heal the wound. In case the boils are really large, the pus sample may be sent to the lab to determine the type of infection, and antibiotics will be prescribed based on the results.
Despite taking all the precautions, one cannot avoid developing boils. Once they appear, one cannot get rid of a boil immediately or overnight since it is an infection. Treating it right is the only way to cure the boils, but one has to make efforts to stay healthy and follow personal hygiene to avoid complications.
Also, Read how to get rid of lipomas